Photo: Bill Oxford on Unsplash
Her name is Marshae Jones, 27. Last December, outside of a Dollar General, Jones was shot in the stomach by Ebony Jeminson, 23. When police arrived at the scene, they found her in a convenience store and rushed her to the hospital, according to NPR. Jones was pregnant at the time and lost the baby due to the gunshot. Jeminson claimed she shot Jones out of self defense, and she was not charged with the shooting of either Jones or the fetus that was lost in the shooting. The two women were fighting over the father of the fetus that Jones was carrying, and Jeminson had intended the shot to be a warning shot and did not intend to kill the fetus.
Jones was charged with manslaughter over the death of the fetus. Manslaughter is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being without expressed or implied malice”. This means that the court found Jones responsible for the death of the fetus because she and Jeminson were in a physical altercation, that Jones initiated, at the time of the gunshot, with both women knowing that Jones was pregnant. Jones could face up to twenty years with this sentence. This ruling considers the fetus a human being, and that the fetus’s death was unlawful on Jones’s part, not on Jeminson, who fired the gun. Jeminson has been quoted saying “I don't feel she should be charged with manslaughter because she didn't go upon killing her baby herself,” Jemison said. “But she should be charged with child endangerment or assault or something like that.” Jeminson has also apologized and offered her condolences for the incident, stating that she wishes she could change the result of what happened.
One of the police officers investigating the case stated that “The only true victim in this was the unborn baby,” Lt. Danny Reid of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said after the shooting in December, reported originally by AP. The issue that has sparked outrage across the country is from that quote, that the unborn baby was the biggest victim, was a human being, and deserved justice over her death. Jones was five months pregnant at the time of the shooting, which at that time, she has a less than 1% chance of miscarrying, because she is past twenty weeks, her miscarriage would have been known as a still birth, which is still relatively rare with technology, but if the baby had been born via cisarian section, she would have had a minimal likelihood of actually surviving outside of the womb.
That being said, the fetus was still inside Jones. Jones had not given birth to her, and the fetus would have not been likely to survive if the paramedics were able to deliver the fetus. Alabama is currently at the forefront of the abortion debate. In May, the governor signed an abortion bill that outlawed abortion at every stage of pregnancy, and even made it a crime for doctors to aid women in safely obtaining an abortion. While it is still unsure whether or not the bill will go into effect, the timing of the signing of the bill and the arrest of Jones is prominent. There has been much outrage over this case, over discrimination of color (there are high criminalization rates for people of color) and over the abortion debate. This case has people wondering whether or not this is something that would happen in a state that has legal abortion. There is a possibility that she will not be indicted on these charges, as the case is still being officially investigated. This is a case to pay close attention to, as the results will most likely have relevance to the abortion debate and bill happening in Alabama.
Elizabeth Coleman is a passionate writer from Massachusetts. She is twenty three years old and is currently working on her MS from Nova Southeastern University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She graduated last year from Keene State College with two BAs, one in Holocaust and Genocide Studies with a minor in history and the other in Criminal Justice Studies. Elizabeth loves to read, but her all time favorite book would have to be "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. In five years, Elizabeth hopes to be investigating extremism and hate groups in the United States. Elizabeth steps up for justice, equality, and making the world a bit better for everyone.